Consider this your sign that you need to stop relying on golden hour and crossing your fingers that it’s overcast.
It’s time to master your craft and thrive like the professional you are in any lighting situation under the sun (literally).
Buuuuuut… Right now. Do you panic when shooting outside of golden hour? I get it. You’re not alone–I did too! First look at three in the afternoon? Forget about it. That used to send me into a complete and utter doom spiral–I needed golden hour or overcast skies to capture images that matched the work my clients booked me for.
Photographing in harsh light can be a challenging task for anyyyyone. Bright sunlight can cast strong shadows, create harsh contrasts, and cause overexposure, resulting in a subpar photograph and a subpar attitude, to be honest. Are you feeling like you’re in the same boat?
Cut to present day in my career – I live for midday lighting. Give me all the harsh light you can, Mother Nature. She’s now my forever fav, and a STAPLE in my portfolio. I avoid shade and overcast skies every chance I get. I can’t wait to teach you how to feel the same! Let’s dive in.
While gear isn’t necessarily everything when it comes to photography – it is important. A camera with a high dynamic range can capture details in both bright and dark areas, producing images with greater depth and clarity. A polarizing filter is another valuable tool that can reduce glare and reflections from shiny surfaces, such as water or glass – It can also deepen the blue of the sky and make colors appear more vibrant. I personally love my Nikon d750 for it’s versatility in both low light and bright situations!
When it comes to sessions like the one featured in this blog post, I love rotating between my 24mm, 58mm, and even my 45mm tilt shift for variety throughout the gallery.
Choosing the right angle and composition can make or break your image when you’re photographing in harsh light! The lighting impact is two fold:
Adjusting your camera settings is critical to getting the perfect exposure in harsh light- there is a good change there will be a variety of exposures within one frame, so always shoot in manual! You’re going to want to make sure you expose for highlights or your subjects skin.
A low ISO setting can help reduce noise in your images, while a high shutter speed can prevent overexposure. The aperture setting determines the depth of field, or how much of the scene is in focus. A shallow depth of field (low f-number) can create a blurred background that isolates the subject, while a deep depth of field (high f-number) can keep the entire scene in focus – when it comes to direct light, experiment with a higher f-stop!
Because harsh light photography can be more complex, post processing will be a lifesaver! Unlike shade or sunset, harsh light photography can often have over-exposed and under-exposed areas all within one frame. This is where post-processing can change the game. Make sure the exposure looks as even as possible throughout the frame, and always prioritize the appearance of your clients. If you’re needing help with editing harsh light images, come check out our #edenstraderpresets – with custom build variations for every lighting situation.
Photographing in harsh light can feel intimidating and scary, but it doesn’t have to be! Keep these tips and tricks on hand for your next midday shoot. And if you’re ready to take it to the next level?
Then it’s time to master your craft and thrive like the professional you are in any lighting situation under the sun (literally). Our fan favorite course – the Harsh Light Workshop – is on flash sale for only $99 (regularly $555). Go snag it while you can!
• Why it’s crucial to master harsh lighting
• How I use harsh light to enhance my portfolio
• Lighting techniques for direct light, back light, and reflectors
• Footage from a live session with commentary to so you can see the strategies in action and get a feel for posing and controlling your light
• How to use lighting techniques to create depth
• How to use reflectors to your advantage in a variety of settings
• How to avoid pesky and unflattering shadows
Come dive in! See you in there. xx
I’M EDEN - A DESTINATION WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER TURNED BUSINESS COACH, NOW LEADING CREATIVE ENTREPRENEURS IN BUILDING A LIFE OF ARTISTIC GROWTH, WEALTH, AND FREEDOM.
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